Days after Mayor Joe Ganim announced a federal application to decommission the troubled Greene Homes public housing complex, government observer John Marshall Lee raises questions about the efficiency of the agency that oversees public housing in Bridgeport. His Monday night address to the City Council follows:
Does the Life you are living these days seem good for you? Personally I am happy for you if so. I never intend to reduce your satisfaction with life one bit. Remember two weeks ago, on the Thanksgiving holiday we stopped along with family and friends, reflected on that which we had received and extended gratitude in our own way and in our own words? It is a wonderful practice. So I want to ask you …
Are there folks here in Bridgeport who are literally at their wit’s end, who are our neighbors, some of whom are especially sought after on Election Days, but whose situation is ignored, forgotten or kept hidden most days from the rest of us? American history looks back on slave times where people of color on plantations were kept with no concern for their quality of life, education or rights as human beings. These were truly poor people, poor in opportunity, acknowledgement of rights and ability to earn a fair return on their work among other things. In the late 20th Century many urban citizens of color were kept from pursuing their human rights by being sentenced to prison in ways dissimilar to punishments for drug activities meted out to neighbors in surrounding towns for similar infractions.
Has public housing today chained those in our community to a last step before homelessness for people who were neighbors at one time? How are we currently managing public housing if our primary goal is “providing a clean and safe place to call home for … children and families?” Those words are from Mayor Ganim in the past few days. He says he has “fought for the residents who have lived in these unsuitable conditions for a long time.” Has he made this priority clear to all in the past three years? The article had to do with tearing down the Greene Homes, but elevator unsuitability for tenants has been only one continuing problem throughout the properties administered by Park City Communities (PCC) Board and staff.
PCC Chairman Cowlis Andrews agrees in the assessment of problems at the Greene Homes, but no reference to what goes on at PT Barnum, Trumbull Gardens and other properties shows the problem to solely be “elevators in continuous need of repair.” Rather than spend funds on decommissioning Greene Homes and then “work towards the development of better public housing in Bridgeport,” why not do the latter work first? How many vacancies exist in each of Park City Community properties? What is the financial status of the housing authority today? Do they pay their bills on time to the WPCA and other vendors in the same manner they expect to be paid? What have the most recent Annual reports and post-inspections of properties told Bridgeport about the state of caring for the most vulnerable? Council person Castillo is liaison for this body. What has he reported in writing to you or the public? Are Section 8 tenants also HUD and PCC clients better served than those in the apartment projects? Does anyone know? Aren’t we about people first; and buildings only incidentally?
What goes on when the US Department of Justice sues Park City Communities for failure to extend reasonable accommodations to those in need? And what happens when policy, processes, and practices of PCC employees viciously target certain residents in such ways that trust in PCC is lost and homelessness seems a better alternative?? Those are questions for your serious consideration. Time will tell.